Ozone Generators, Snake Oil of the Modern Age

Perhaps this goes to show that there will always be snake oil vendors.   For years, we’ve been sold on the idea that Ozone generators are a good thing, that they promote and create healthy air within our homes, remove odors, etc.  The manufacturers of ozone generators even go so far as to point out that it’s just as nature does with lightning strikes and thunderstorms.  This notion resonated with us. After all, isn’t there a hole in the ozone layer?  So more ozone is a good thing… right?  Up in the stratosphere, protecting our planet, it is.  Down here where we breathe, though, it’s actually flat out dangerous.

That last statement bears repeating: Ozone generators in our homes are dangerous.  Ozone is, chemically speaking, O3 — three oxygen atoms bound together.  It’s made by electricity passing through the air.  So what’s wrong with that?  Our bodies aremade to breathe O2, not O3.  O3 (Ozone) can make our throats sore and damage our lungs.  The same properities of ozone which can cause certain smells, bacteria and mold to be affected, those same properties also affect tissues within our bodies, and not in a good way.

There’s a long list of data to support what’s being presented here.  Research performed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments,  as well as others, all agrees with this.  Ozone up there is a good idea.  Down here, it’s a bad thing.  Even in a best case scenario, even “safe” levels of ozone will to little or nothing to provide helpful benefits.  Once the concentration is high enough to be killing off harmful or offensive aspects, it has become dangerous to our health.  There is no practical effective way to use an Ozone generator safely in your home.

Ion generators, preferably those which generate both positive and negative ions, do have a desireable effect, in that they help to knock down airborn particulates.  How much so?  There are too many variables to answer that, but the best bet is still to use air filters to remove allergens, to filter out dirt and dust particles.  It would seem that HEPA filters are still the best means of cleaning the air that we breathe.

Why are the manufacturers allowed to make the claims if they’re not true?   Apparently the government is not empowerede to regulate Ozone generators.  Or perhaps someone got a major payoff.  But if you check a bit online, you’ll find the EPA’s statement on the subject.  (Or you could follow the link we just provided here.)

If you’ve bought yourself some snake oil recently, you may want to return it.  If you cannot, it’s best to dismantle or crush it before disposing of it.  Normally we’d not be keen on adding such things to a landfill, but there are far too many people who remain unaware of the dangers of this.  Donating it to Goodwill or some similar organization just spreads the snake oil to some other unsuspecting person.   When disposing of an ozone generator, it’s best to follow the Golden Rule and make certain that no one else ever uses the thing again.

What can we do about the hole in the ozone?  Most dangerous aerosol sprays are gone, and the dangerous freon is unlawful to discharge intentionally.  Stop using combustion engines.  That’s the single best thing we can do for ourselves and our planet.